Research: Fast Memory Decline Tied to Fatal Stroke

By Chris Kaiser, Cardiology Editor, MedPage Today

Published: February 02, 2012

Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

NEW ORLEANS — People who died from stroke had the most severe and rapid memory loss prior to the event compared with stroke-free individuals and those who survived a stroke, a large study found.

In a cohort of more than 12,000 people, the average memory score each year dropped linearly in relation to the risk of non-fatal and fatal stroke, according to M. Maria Glymour, ScD, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues.

At the time of stroke, memory function dropped an average 0.321 points, a difference that was about the same as the average memory decline associated with growing 4.1 years older among those who remained stroke-free, Glymour said at a press conference here at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.

“A quick decline in memory might be a signal for a need to assess atherosclerotic disease,” Carolyn D. Brockington, MD, director of the stroke center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, told MedPage Today.

Vascular disease assessment is in order as long as other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, anemia, or thyroid disease, have been ruled out, said Brockington, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

Advanced imaging technology such as MRI and CT can examine the vasculature in great detail, she said. “If there is significant cerebrovascular disease, it could be linked to hypoperfusion, which could be linked to memory decline.

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